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24-105mm f:4L Mark II or two prime lenses

SBK
Enthusiast

Hi

 

Newbie on this forum but not new to Canon.

 

I'd like to ask for your help on my dilemma.

 

For the price of the 24-105mm f:4L Mark II, I can buy two Canon prime lenses (non L-series): the 35mm f:2 for about $600 and the 85mm f:1.8 for about $420.

 

I personally don't need the 24mm focal length, and let's set aside the convenience side of having to carry only one lens offered by the zoom.

 

I am more interested in knowing whether the zoom's image quality (*) matches the quality offered by the two prime lenses when comparing at the same focal length. The zoom can't obviously be measured at wider aperture than f4, so the comparison would only make sense at f4, f5.6, f8 ...

 

(*) the most desired qualities for me are: faithful color rendering, contrast and sharpness

 

Or perhaps the zoom lens is of L-series so it would be better than non-L-series prime lenses ?

 

I don't have any of the above mentioned lenses so I'd appreciate your feedback.

17 REPLIES 17

SBK
Enthusiast

For folks who may have the same question than mine, I found a partial answer to my question at the link below. It does not answer my specific question though. I understand that my question is kind of a corner case.

 

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Canon-Lenses/Canon-L-Lens-Series.aspx 

 

"The image quality of the Canon L lenses is generally as good as it gets. Contrast, sharpness, color, bokeh (background/foreground blur quality), flare, CA (Chromatic Aberration) ... All are excellent. Full Frame camera body owners will especially find L series lenses to be (on average) significantly sharper toward the edges of the frame compared to lesser lenses. "


@SBK wrote:

For folks who may have the same question than mine, I found a partial answer to my question at the link below. It does not answer my specific question though. I understand that my question is kind of a corner case.

 

https://www.the-digital-picture.com/Canon-Lenses/Canon-L-Lens-Series.aspx 

 

"The image quality of the Canon L lenses is generally as good as it gets. Contrast, sharpness, color, bokeh (background/foreground blur quality), flare, CA (Chromatic Aberration) ... All are excellent. Full Frame camera body owners will especially find L series lenses to be (on average) significantly sharper toward the edges of the frame compared to lesser lenses. "


On DSLR's L lenses are definitely among the best, but a few of Canon's EF designs are very good, like the EF 85mm f/1.8. The fact that it remained competitive for 30 years at such a low price point speaks to the talent of the people who made it back then. I guess there is a reason Canon has kept it in service, in 30 years the competitiion never came up with anything bettter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ebiggs1
Legend
Legend

"I'd like to ask for your help on my dilemma."

 

I can't say what the answer is to your dilemma but if it was me the 24-105mm f4 all day long every day.  No way on this earth would I go with a prime vs a high quality zoom like a Canon "L" zoom lens if it was my first and only lens. You want to restrict yourself to 35mm and 85mm? What about the 50 odd mm's in between?  You may find that 28mm is pretty darn useful too or 100mm.

 

" the most desired qualities for me are: faithful color rendering, contrast and sharpness"

 

To a pixel peeper this might be an argument but for real world use the "L" zoom will win out. I have been selling my work and photos for 50 years.  I have yet to have someone say, "I would buy that print form you if you had only used a prime lens." Never not once!

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

"To a pixel peeper this might be an argument but for real world use the "L" zoom will win out"

 

Thank you for the real world perspective reminder.

The primes MIGHT be a better choice for you if you need the wider aperture compared to the F4 zoom but otherwise you are giving up a lot of versatility and convenience.  And sometimes that aperture is very important, not just for allowing lower ISO and narrower depth of field when desired but also allowing the camera's AF system to perform faster but for most users that probably isn't a critical concern.

 

And this is from someone who owns quite a few L series Canon primes.  For field sports, an EF 300 or 400 f2.8 is going to be on the main body and for indoor sports an EF 200 f2 will be on the main body.  These Canon telephoto primes are very sharp with extremely fast focus acquisition and outperform the Canon zooms at their focal length.  But the second body will almost always have a 70-200 f2.8 on it and I have no complaints about its capabilities.

 

It is easier to make a great prime than a great zoom and Canon's best primes are superb but unless you need the performance of these specialists, then Canon also makes great zoom lenses and the versatility and convenience is a strong point in their favor.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"And sometimes that aperture is very important, not just for allowing lower ISO and narrower depth of field when desired but also allowing the camera's AF system to perform faster but for most users that probably isn't a critical concern."

 

Thank you wq9nsc for your feed back. Versality and convenience are definitely some thing to consider.

 

What I like from the 35mm f2 and 85mm f1.8 now resulted from my days shooting film for indoor low-light family gatherings and other indoor events with flashes (especially in the evenings). I had tried from multiple cobra flashes to torch flash like the Metz 45 CT4. I could never like those frontal flash pics. Then I quitted using flashes altogether, and used high ISO films instead. I've taken pics for a friend with his indoor event with 800 ASA film without flash and both my friend and I like the pics without flash better.

 

When switching to digital, the high ISOs are a lot more usable than my Ilford Delta 3200 days, which were too grainy to my taste.

 

So that's my main reason for considering the above mentioned prime lenses. But i hear you about the versality aspect. The 24-105 L does have another advantage of having IS, which is a big advantage in low light obviously. The 85mm f1.8 that I mentioned earlier does not have IS, but does allow faster shutter speed ... all about trade-offs  Smiley LOL

 

 

"...all about trade-offs..."

 

You bet. In photography there is no free lunch.  You always give to get something. I do love my ef 85mm f1.2L lens and I used it just yesterday.  I did a job for the upcoming Trombone Christmas at Union Station 2020 in Kansas City. However, my main most used and important lens for the job was a zoom, in this case a 24-700mm f2.8. Union Station is a huge building built in 1913. It was at 7:30 AM and the building was extremely dark.  I knew it would be as I did the same job last year.

 

_52D1388.jpg

EOS 1D Mk IV, 42mm, f2.8, SS 1/40 (no IS), ISO 800.  Love that bokeh!

_52D1414.jpg

EOS 1D Mk IV, 85mm, f1.6, SS 1/60 (again no IS), ISO 800.

These samples in no way show how dark and vast this place is. Same event two solutions. The only light is from the Christmas trees and decorations.

 

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

111.jpg

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

"It was at 7:30 AM and the building was extremely dark."

 

I know what you talk about. Just cropping from your larger-view picture and putting side by side with the portrait of the trombone player, it kinds of give an idea how dark it was. And correct me if I am wrong, but based on my past experience with low-light pictures, I believe that when you took these photographs, it was even darker than shown in the pic on the right below.

 

Trumpet.png

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